UK property asking prices have “hit the ground running”, reaching an all-time record high of almost £300,000, new data suggests.
The average house price reached £299,287 after rising 2.9% over the month. The figure is an increase of £8,324 or 2.9% from the average asking price in January, and is £2,738 above the previous all-time high set in October 2015.
The biggest increases were in London, where the average asking price has risen by 10.5% over the last year, to £643,843, and in the East, where it rose 10.7% to £321,630.
Rightmove, a property listings website, said there was a 5% increase in the number of properties coming onto the market during January, and a 10% rise in the supply of typical first-time buyer homes, which have two bedrooms or fewer.
“The new year’s market has hit the ground running in many locations, continuing last year’s momentum and resulting in the price of property coming to the market hitting a new high,” said Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove.
“Many agents reported high numbers of sales in November and December and properties selling more quickly, so it’s encouraging to see signs of replenishment of property, especially in the first-time buyer sector.
“However, in spite of the apparent veneer of market buoyancy, those thinking of putting their property up for sale need to avoid being too optimistic with their initial asking price, as most buyers are still understandably being very selective about their future home.”
Demand for housing is also increasing to record highs, with 4.9 million phone and email enquiries last month, the website said.
The government has introduced a number of policies focused on helping first-time buyers onto the property ladder. It has made increasing the home ownership rate a priority. High house prices are shutting many aspiring home owners out of the market because they cannot save a large enough deposit, or secure a sufficient mortgage, despite the low interest rates, because they do not earn enough. Among the government’s offerings for first-time buyers is the Help to Buy scheme.
The website claimed 2016 could end up being “the year of the first-time buyer” due to the increased supply of such properties, combined with “low interest rates, initiatives such as Help to Buy, and buy-to-let investors facing increasingly adverse taxes”.
The most common property types coming up for sale were those with two bedrooms or fewer – typically sought by first-time buyers – with the number of such new properties up by 10% on this time last year, it said.
Shipside said the increase in these property types coming to market could be due to a wave of first-time sellers putting their homes on the market ahead of a stamp duty increase for buy-to-let investors in April.